TITLE: NewsWorks

ACCESS: http://www.newsworks.com

The proliferation of newspaper websites represents both a boon and a burden to reference librarians. They have information at their fingertips but no reliable search engine that enables them to retrieve newspaper articles from many newspapers at the same time. The NewsWorks search engine, http://www.newsworks.com, is a step in the right direction and a good starting point for undergraduate students doing research on a current-interest topic. It allows access to approximately 130 newspapers published by a consortium of nine major media companies known as New Century Network. A list of the newspapers is on-line at <http://www.newcentury.net/newsworks/byreg1.htm>, with links to each publication's web presence. This list is a valuable resource in its own right.

The site uses Infoseek's search engine; instead of Boolean operators, users put plus signs to indicate "and," and quote marks to encompass a phrase. If neither of these symbols are used, the search engine puts an "or" between each search term. Search results appear ranked by relevance, although searchers may also view the results by date; the maximum number of citations retrieved is 250. Each retrieved citation lists the article's headline, its newspaper, and the first 4 or 5 lines of the story. It is possible to narrow a search after seeing results by clicking on "search within results." If users require more information beyond these basic instructions, the NewsWorks site also has six pages of search engine documentation available.

From the Newsworks site, there is no way to determine date ranges for each of the newspapers, that is, how many months or years of stories each newspaper keeps archived at its website. Occasionally the search engine will retrieve a citation for a story that no longer exists; perhaps 5% of the retrieved citations are dead links.

Site users will see a message alluding to a previous, more feature-filled website. When New Century Network was formed, it promised to revolutionize web users' access to newspapers, offering news stories and features, in addition to the search engine, at its website. The consortium disintegrated, however, as the group was unable to decide on a cohesive business plan. Despite the remaining links on the NewsWorks page, all that is left now is the search engine.

Heidi E.K. Senior
Reference/Instruction Librarian
University of Portland
senior@up.edu
March 1998


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